Every year the Polygon staff chooses 10 excellent games to award our Game of the Year honors, but that means some games we love don't quite make the cut. As with last year, we're running a series of opinion pieces by members of the Polygon staff explaining why certain games earned top marks from them even if they didn't make our staff-wide Game of the Year list.
Here is a series of statements about Batman: Arkham Knight, and life:
Batman: Arkham Knight is the latest, and ostensibly final, game in Rocksteady's stellar Batman series.
I finished Batman: Arkham Knight at 100 percent, meaning I collected all 243 (!) Riddler trophies spread across the game's massive open-world Gotham.
I enjoyed this task.
The PC release of Batman: Arkham Knight was severely troubled, resulting in the game being pulled from Steam until a massive patch, released four months later, addressed the game's biggest bugs.
I finished Batman: Arkham Knight at 100 percent on the immensely troubled, pre-patch PC port of the game. I completed every mission. I got almost every achievement.
I have a son.
I finished the game in August, when my son was just 17 months old.
Seventeen-month-olds are wild, wild animals. Just a year earlier I spent over 100 hours exploring every corner of Dark Souls 2. Just five months earlier I played through the entirety of Bloodborne, and even started another run in New Game+. By August, that kind of expansive free time was a thing of the past. I started grabbing a few minutes wherever I could find it.
I keep a journal of all the games I've played and note which games I've finished. I finished fewer games in 2015 — just eight — than in any other year since I started this journal. Last year I finished 25 games. There's a reason for this.
Newborns sleep a lot.
My son is now 21 months old, and I'm just now realizing that I need to adjust how and where I play video games. Yes, everyone told me this. No, I didn't listen.
Batman: Arkham Knight didn't work perfectly for me on PC, which undoubtedly soured me to some of what it was trying to do. But it was the exact right game at exactly the right time for me. I was drawn to it, the same way I had been drawn to its predecessors (including 2013's vastly underrated Arkham Origins!). But this was different. It was comforting, to pick up the controller and venture back into Gotham, Bat Errands in hand. I could grab a couple trophies while my son ran around the living room and, when fatherhood called, I could quit immediately without worrying about losing my progress.
I prefer to play video games early in the morning. In fact, I prefer it so much that I've become mostly unable to play video games at night. I'm tired, from work. I'm tired, from the baby. I'm just tired. My brain doesn't enjoy video games at night the way it does in the morning. But the routine of gathering all those trophies and exploring every single corner of Arkham Knight was unaffected by how tired I was. I was on autopilot.
That's not a demerit against Batman: Arkham Knight, by the way. I loved the game. I couldn't stop playing it. While the game wasn't technically polished on my platform, its design was most certainly polished to a shine.
I loved the Batmobile puzzles and platforming.
I loved the [SPOILER REDACTED HERE].
I still don't love the character designs. Sorry.
Once the DLC finally arrived on Steam, I found it difficult to get back into the game. While it was definitely graphically improved, the game actually performed worse for me. While multiple patches have been issued since then, I haven't made the time to revisit it. I'd been sampling all sorts of games in the lead up to our Game of the Year voting; games that I didn't make the time for while I was obsessed with Arkham Knight. And now, with some distance, I don't know if I want to don the cape and cowl again.
I have a memory of playing the entirety of Dark Souls 2 with my newborn son asleep on my chest, very early in the morning, while my partner was still asleep upstairs. And I have a similar memory, of playing Arkham Knight standing up, chasing my son around the house with the game paused, entreating him to please not put that in your mouth. These memories have become a kind of time stamp, the way you remember when a song came out based on what year it was in school.
I have no idea how I'm going to make time for Dark Souls 3.